TACTICAL COMBAT SECTION
ARMY AIR FORCES PROVING GROUND COMMAND
EGLIN FIELD, FLORIDA
TACTICAL SUITABILITY OF THE P-51 TYPE AIRPLANE
30 December 1942
To determine the relative tactical value of the P-51 type fighter aircraft for combat service.
This test was authorized by letter from Headquarters Army Air Forces, Director of Air Defense, dated July 13, 1942, to Commanding General, Air Forces Proving Ground, Eglin Field, Florida, subject: "Test of P-51 Airplanes." This test was started August 7, 1942, and was finished November 1, 1942.
a. Description. The articles tested are P-51 type airplanes, Air Corps Serial Nos. 41-37323, 41-37324, and 41-37325.
It is concluded that:
a. The subject aircraft is the best low altitude American fighter aircraft yet developed, and should be used as the criterion for comparison of subsequent types.
b. If possible, the power loadings of this fighter aircraft should be materially reduced, without increasing the wing loading.
c. To reduce the power loadings of the aircraft, excess weight in the structure, and accessories not vital to operational use should be eliminated, and engine performance increased.
d. Pilots become completely at home in this aircraft immediately after the first take-off due to the remarkable sensitivity of control, simplicity of cockpit, and excellent flying characteristics.
e. The rate of roll is not as rapid as is desired for combat operations.
f. The view downward over the nose is not sufficient to allow full deflection shooting in a turn.
g. The automatic manifold pressure regulator is completely satisfactory.
h. With the exception of the radiators, the airplane is completely satisfactory.
i. The range of speeds obtainable in the throttle limits in level flight is excellent.
j. Up to fifteen-thousand (15,000) feet this is faster than all standard American fighters with the exception of the P-47C-1.
It is recommended that:
a. The subject aircraft be equipped with an engine which will permit satisfactory tactical combat maneuvering between twenty-five-thousand (25,000) and thirty-thousand (30,000) feet.
b. The present armament in the subject aircraft be changed from four (4) 20 mm cannon to four (4) .50 caliber machine guns, wing mounted, and that these be high cyclic rate of fire guns when conclusive tests are accomplished with the guns and standardization is effected.
c. Provisions be provided for carrying external combat and ferrying fuel tanks.
d. The subject aircraft be equipped with the modified N-7 type gun sight to allow changing of bulb while in flight and to set dropping angle for low level bombing.
e. The subject aircraft be equipped with the Stoddard radio (Model MRT-3A) for test at this station. This radio weighs forty-six (46) pounds installed.
f. The brakes of the subject aircraft be redesigned for more satisfactory operation.
g. The throttle and propeller controls be hooked together to operate as a unit, if the pilot desires.
h. The coolant and oil radiators be redesigned for more satisfactory service, and the mountings be modified to permit much faster installation and removal.
i. Study be made of canopy structure to determine the weakness which allows the canopy to bulge at high speed, and steps be taken to correct this condition.
j. The subject aircraft be equipped with an automatic shutter control (factory has installation).
k. It be equipped with a stick locking tail wheel (factory has installation).
l. It be equipped with more effective aileron control to produce higher rate of roll at all speeds (factory has installation).
m. It be equipped with left wing landing light only.
n. It be equipped with a "Demand" oxygen system (now standard equipment).
o. The electrical compass indicator magnesyn remote indicating compass be installed.
p. The automatic manifold pressure regulator be incorporated on all subsequent models of this airplane.
5. RECORD OF TEST:
This test was conducted according to the Test Program, Proof Department, No. 4-42-7, this headquarters, dated August 3, 1942, a copy of which is attached as Inclosure No. 1, except for the procedure called for in paragraph 3 a (4). This portion of the test has not been completed.
a. Performance. For speed, rate of climb, range and gas consumption tables, see Inclosure No. 2.
b. Maneuverability. The subject aircraft was flown in "mock" combat against the P-38F, P-39D, P-40F, P-47B, and the Mitsubishi "00" type of aircraft.
c. The following results were obtained: